ERs are overwhelmed as omicron continues to flood them with patients
The omicron surge is jamming up hospital emergency rooms with patients who are waiting long hours or even days to get a bed.
"We are being absolutely crushed," says Dr. Gabor Kelen, chair of emergency medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland.
Nationwide, daily COVID-19 hospitalizations are up about 33% this week from the week before and more than 155,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, well above the record set last winter.
But these numbers can't capture the pressure on emergency rooms. Before those patients land in hospital beds, many more of them funnel through emergency rooms seeking care.
Emergency departments essentially act as shock absorbers for the enormous wave of infections, triaging all kinds of patients, from the severely ill to those who might not need to be admitted at all.
"We are like the one open venue for everybody, right? It's the one place you can go without an appointment," says Kelen.